Monday, July 19, 2010

Pharmacies Are Harmacies

As some people may know, occasionally when psychologists prescribe a patient with antidepressants, they only allow a certain number of refills, prompting the patient to come back in for a "check-up" of sorts when they need to have their prescription renewed. You can circumvent the actual check-up by simply calling in and requesting the doctor to call in the prescription renewal to your pharmacy, or you can call the pharmacy and request them to fax a prescription refill order to your doctor.

I went with Option A (or attempted to) to get my antidepressants renewed. I called my doctor's office and was met with a disconnection notice telling me that her number had been changed. Now she can be reached at the main hospital's number (though it would have been nice if they had listed her extension). For me, that meant one more person to speak with on the phone. I dreaded it, but I knew it had to be done. When my call was redirected to her office, her (new) secretary answered and I asked if it would be possible for them to call in my prescription. I was told very politely that I would have to contact the pharmacy and request that they fax the form over. More dread, but it was a necessary evil.

While the phone rang, I silently begged the universe to grant me a reprieve and have one of the female pharmacists answer. I got my wish, and when asked what it was I needed, I asked her to fax the request over to my doctor. After getting my name, she told me that my doctor has a note by her name stating that she refuses to accept fax orders. After I called her office and was told to have the pharmacy fax the form over. This is the same doctor who told me that she shouldn't be seeing me anymore because she's switching to in-patient care, yet she still continued to book appointments with me.

I wouldn't necessarily describe my view of mental health care in this city as cynical, but I do feel that the term "jaded" wouldn't be out of place. I won't go into my battle history with the mental health care available here, but I do have some issues I'd like to discuss.

1) Adolescents above the age of 16 and below the age of 18 (meaning 17) have no access to psychologists. Child psychologists refuse to take on patients over 16, and adult psychologists won't take on patients under 18. However, this is not a universal rule. When I was 17 and desperately in need of a psychologist, we did manage to locate one saintly child psychologist who agreed to see me. He is one of the only psychologists in the city who will treat 17-year-olds.

2) Long-term counselling services for individuals suffering from conditions that are not seen as "severe" are extremely limited. There's Crisis Services who offer six sessions at a time for anyone suffering a mental health emergency. They do not offer long-term counselling, but they do offer fantastic short-term care. For anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault, there's the Sexual Assault Care Centre, who offers help for as long as its needed (which is indeed long-term, but it's not general counselling). But the long-term counsellors available to members of the public not affected by severe and specific mental health issues all have waiting lists that are miles long.

3) Many psychologists in the city seem to disbelieve patients when they attempt to procure treatment for depression. One particular psychologist I went to see refused to believe that I was depressed, despite being diagnosed as such several years prior. He said as much to my face. In the end, he wrote me a prescription simply to get me out of his office. However, he wasn't the first to doubt me in that respect. I told my doctor when I was 11 that I thought that I was depressed. I wasn't diagnosed as depressed until six years later.

I know that there are very beneficial services available in the city that are effective. I know that every aspect of health care has its issues. I know that my opinion is heavily biased. I am just easily frustrated when dealing with the mental health care system.

Sorry for such a serious post on a Monday morning. My next post will involve movies, sunshine, and something fluffy.

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